Re-establish consensus on ind foreign policy: former Envoys

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New Delhi, Oct 10 (UNI) Describing as ''extraordinary developments'' India's civil nuclear agreements with the US and France and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver, several former Foreign Secretaries and Ambassadors today stressed the need for closing ranks and re-establishing the traditional consensus on India's independent foreign policy in a multi-polar international system.

The newly-constituted Ambassadors Forum, which includes senior and retired Foreign Secretaries and Ambassadors, said in a statement here that this was necessary as India is expected to shoulder increasing responsibilities in the management of multi-polar international system.

The statement was issued after the Forum's inaugural meeting here chaired by former Foreign Secretary and Chairman of the National Security Advisory Board, M K Rasgotra, who said the Forum would take up issues of foreign policy, security and economy which would have a bearing on India's foreign policy.

The signatories to the statement included former Foreign Secretaries Rasgotra, K Raghunath, Lalit Mansingh and retired Ambassadors A N Ram, J Hiremath, Arjun Asrani, Ms Arundhati Ghosh, Kuldip Sahdev and Dilip Lahiri.

The statement noted that the nuclear issue had caused ''a distressing and acrimonious polarization within the Indian political system and policy establishment over the last three years.

Now that the agreements have been successfully concluded in India's best interest, it is our sincere hope that we shall all close ranks and reestablish the traditional consensus on India's independent foreign policy in a multipolar international system, in the management of which India is expected to shoulder increasing responsibilities,'' the statement said.

The Forum said India's agreements on civilian nuclear cooperation with the US and France, the impending agreement with Russia, and the India-specific waiver extended by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) were extraordinary achievements of Indian foreign policy.

''The political leadership, Indian diplomats and scientists deserve the highest commendation for their patient and clear sighted pursuit of Indian national interests. It is particularly noteworthy that all this has been achieved without adverse effects on our independent strategic programme,'' the Forum noted.

The statement said now that the agreements had cleared the way for India to resume participation in international cooperation and access to high technology, scientific exchanges and trade in the nuclear field which had come under increasing restrictions since the nuclear test of 1974, ''the immediate challenge would be to access nuclear fuel and enhance our capacity for power generation.'' UNI RB RP BD1805

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